#101  
Old 02-08-2019, 07:26 AM
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I have on many occasion dozed off with loose birds in the house.

Mostly, they do what your little guy did - hide, hang out by food, etc.

On other occasions they have done things like begin grooming eyebrows/eyelashes, or taking a nip out of a snoozing human.

You're not a bad pet parent. He knows where "home" is and how to get there.
  #102  
Old 02-08-2019, 08:00 AM
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Has anyone ever made a PVC bird tree for their winged companions? Apparently this is quite a thing - there is one plan at Instructables, and there are a number of Etsy vendors as well. It looks relatively simple, just requires the pipe / joints, some vet tape, and a pipe-cutting tool (plus a power drill for certain attachments).

I'd been thinking that giving Morty something he could climb up when EVAing might make being outside a bit more tempting for him.
  #103  
Old 02-08-2019, 08:53 AM
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I've always used wooden bird trees - they like something they can chew on. You just need to be sure the wood you make it from is safe for birds (paint/stain free, non-toxic wood, etc.)

If you go the PVC route make sure any adhesives used are completely cured before turning Morty loose - birds are very very sensitive to airborne toxins, much more so than we are.
  #104  
Old 03-21-2019, 07:47 PM
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Brief update:

Morty still does not approach us - he's NOT a food-motivated critter so I could probably have my hand in his cage, holding millet, all day - and he wouldn't approach.

We've taken to leaving the cage open whenever we're home - and he'd gotten to the point where he'd exit the cage every day or two, take a look around, go and run right back up his ladder.

I got in the habit of leaving a spray of millet on a dish on the floor near his ladder, to perhaps act as an incentive / evidence that good things can be found outside the cage, but he was having NONE of it...

until yesterday and today. Now he bounces out of his cage all the time, flops down to the millet, and goes into DESTROY mode. We're thinking off renaming him Onan. I'll have to get a big cafeteria tray or something to contain the seed. Tonight he's been wandering all around that corner of the room - clearly much more comfortable.

I do still plan on building him some kind of PvC bird tree, as I think he'd enjoy being able to get out and still have height and feeling of safety. Just got to decide on a general design, and order the parts. I think the adhesive will be a nonproblem (as one site said they got very good joints just jamming the pieces together) but I'll be careful to let it dry thoroughly if we do need adhesive.

He definitely enjoys Star Trek - The Next Generation (the music mostly though we wonder if his first phrase will be "Make it so"). He sings along with the faucet and the microwave too.
  #105  
Old 05-31-2019, 05:03 PM
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Bumpdate.

Morty is no more willing to be approached than he was when he first arrived. He's not terribly food motivated - at least, not enough to approach our hands even when we're holding a big piece of Birdie Crack (spray millet).

He's a lot more willing to venture out of his cage since we started keeping a piece of millet on a cafeteria tray on the floor in front of it. He uses the ladder, as mentioned, to get back when he's on the floor.

We finally got his bird tree build - it's about 5.5 feet tall, 2 feet square in cross section, with horizontal bits every 2 feet. They are covered with vet wrap for grippitude, with a variety of toys at various levels (and lots of eyebolts to change things up as needed). I've got it set up so that he can get to every level without flying (there are ropes or ladders at every level); also some horizontal bits on several levels to reduce the risk of his getting to the top and falling 5+ feet to the floor. He's been on it quite a lot today; today is the first time he's gotten up to the 3rd rung (he can be hard to see since he's pale yellow and blending in to the color of the perch behind him). We have rope perches connected to his cage to several spots on the tree, so he doesn't have to get down on the floor to get there. And of course birdie crack has been instrumental in getting him there.
  #106  
Old 05-31-2019, 05:10 PM
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Wow. That is a fantastic bird "tree".
  #107  
Old 06-02-2019, 12:36 AM
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Congratulations on the tree! It looks great. I'm wondering if Morty may just not be interested in becoming friends. I don't know if Floaty Gimpy would have any thoughts? Since you seem to be interested in trying this out, would another bird be a possibility? Maybe you could find a more social bird.
  #108  
Old 06-02-2019, 06:44 AM
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Wow. That is a fantastic bird "tree".
Concur. If I was a bird, I'd be lucky to live in Mama Z's home.
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  #109  
Old 06-03-2019, 01:18 PM
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I've decided to specifically spend time sitting right next to the cage - My computer is about 10 feet away and mostly I've been talking to him from across the room. So I've started sitting right by the open cage door and talking to him, sometimes with one hand resting inside the door.

Last night and again today, a bit of a victory: I held a bit of millet in the hand - where he could get to the millet without touching my hand - and he started pigging out. That's a pretty big step - he would never go near the birdie crack with my hand attached to it before.

Just a few minutes ago, I had a moment. I found a smallish glass bowl that had originally held food or water when he was first brought over. I haven't been using it because the cage has stainless bowls that attach to the side, and are off the floor of the cage. On a whim, I filled the bowl with water and put it in his cage.

Within 2 minutes he was hopping on the edge, drinking from it, and hopping into and out of it. It had simply never OCCURRED to me to do such a thing before.

Obviously I'll have to put that in with fresh water for a bit every day, then remove it after an hour or so, so it doesn't get fouled too badly.
  #110  
Old 07-25-2019, 10:30 AM
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Quick (?) Morty update.

I posted on a bird forum some time ago, and several people said they thought "he" was "she" based on cere color. Dunno - it's really hard to tell in photos, and since Morty is an Only Bird right now, it doesn't really matter.

He will, finally, take millet if I hold the spray near him, though if my finger is in the way (my experiment to see if he would step on to the finger to get the goodies) it will get bitten. I've experimented with using a perch instead, though with a long millet spray, it's tough to get the millet and perch positioned just right enough that he'll step onto the perch. He's done it a couple of times though. I haven't tried moving him into / out of the cage using the perch yet.

Once, when he was on the 3rd level of the tree, I brought a large piece of millet nearby so he could see it, then set it down on the shelf just below where he was. He was definitely eyeing it, but not quite ready to move (with Big Scary Hooman nearby) to go to it. I thought I might give him a chance to get used to a human hand nearby but not trying to grab him, so I held it near the perch he was on. Well that didn't work out; even distracted by the Birdie Crack 12 inches away, he did NOT like that hand, and bit it, several times. I left it there, because I didn't want him to remember that biting = good things, but I will avoid provoking him like that again.

We'd been hanging sprays of millet from a couple of places on his tree, which was quite an incentive to him. Now, I'm making a point of letting him have millet only when I'm hand-offering it to him, or at least sitting by him. At some point I will try to put my hand nearby with several pieces of millet resting on it, to see if he'll approach my hand then. For now, though, I have to hold it with the millet sticking out so he can get to it.


We have a toy on the outside of his cage: it's like a little shelf that sticks out, with a vertical pole coming up from the shelf, and 3 bells hanging around that pole. They can be jingled and spun around the pole. He ***loves*** that thing - will spend hours sitting on the shelf, jingling or just shaking the bells. I wonder if he thinks we can't see him when he's there, as he's between the pole and the cage. He's actually a bit obsessive about it; I think I'll remove it for a bit and put something else there instead.

He's less likely to bolt when we walk around the room, though of course if I approach the cage when he's out, he either runs to the tree or runs into the cage. The other day, I approached and he kind of froze on the toy; I grabbed a spray of millet and held it up to see if he'd eat from it there. He panicked and scrambled - but he scrambled **onto** the millet - which meant I was able to move him a few inches onto his tree. He didn't freak and flutter away until he was within an inch of the tree. This gives me hope that he might eventually be trainable to step onto a perch, at least.

I've taken to chanting "Birdie Crack" whenever I'm giving him millet, in the hopes that this will condition him to come when he hears that.

Flight: We no longer clip his feathers. Well, we never did, but the cleaner who gave him to us had done so and she clipped him a couple of times afterward. I know there are tradeoffs in terms of safety with a flighted bird, but I wouldn't declaw a cat either if there were any alternative, and I think removing flight ability is even more drastic (if more easily corrected) than that. He no longer plummets when he tries to leave the cage.

In the past week or so, he's made it the length of the family room and kitchen a couple of times. He's gained sufficient altitude to bang into a half-round window in the family room; poor fellow rebounded and wound up standing on a table near the window for a bit. When I sat down next to him there he didn't even bolt. Though when I tried laying my hand nearby, that roused him, and he headed back to his tree and then to his cage.

We put the wooden decorative insert back into that half-round window the next day - figuring that'll be better for breaking it up visually, so he knows there's something in the way. That seems to have done the trick: 2 days ago, he flew from his cage into the kitchen. Then a couple minutes later he went back, gaining sufficient elevation to clear the railing between the kitchen and the family room, and headed straight for that high-up window. This time, though, he made a sharp right just beforehand - woohoo! Only then, he crossed past the other half-round window and smacked into the wall (that's what I thought, and that's what he said, loudly, upon impact). Fortunately there was a folded up towel or something below him, so he had a soft landing. He immediately recovered, and went back to his cage, so he wasn't injured.

We're actually going to rearrange the family room a bit, so his cage and tree will be against that same wall - this will give him a bit more of a visual break when approaching it.

He's definitely lacking in confidence; he's not out and flying about all the time yet. I had to laugh the other day: he was on one of his out-of-cage perches, flapping madly. I kept thinking "maybe he forgot to let go with his feet?".

For those of you with free-range birds, how do you keep them safe? Common-sense things like not leaving windows / doors open, making sure windows are screened, having toilet lids down, we've got covered. But a friend is really pushing us to try to cordon off the family room using fabric curtains or something. I see the point, but the layout of the house simply isn't conducive to a true aviary room, and we have to live here too.
  #111  
Old 07-26-2019, 11:43 AM
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Mama Zappa - I'm so glad you're continuing to give Morty a home even though he isn't cuddly. Many people would've given up.

StG
  #112  
Old 09-18-2019, 10:32 AM
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Morty bumpdate time.

His flying is improving, though he still bumps into things occasionally. Though on one recent expedition, he flew two fairly tight loops around the top of his play structure, so.... He only ventures out every couple of days; each time, it's usually one loop around the family room / kitchen, then back to his cage.

He does exit the cage regularly to run around on his tree, and eat the millet that's been spilled on the ground underneath that.

His absolute *favorite* toy is this one. I had it sitting on the outside of his cage, and he would stand on the flat part (between the bells and the cage connector) and jingle it for hours. I finally had to move it to the interior because he was pooping there as well.

I posted photos of him on Avian Avenue and several people there said they thought he was really Morticia - but his mother is lutino and father is albino so evidently it's not that clear. Certainly he isn't talking, and he seems to be smaller than I expect an adult parakeet to be - so who knows.

There's been a bit of progress on "taming", woohoo. I would hold a spray of birdie crack (millet) in my hand and offer it to him in his cage, and he wouldn't come near.

Then he started eating it when I held it out.

Then he quit panicking when I went near him on the play tree, though he still wouldn't approach. He would eat millet if I held it out - but if my finger was anywhere near, he would bite in disapproval even if the finger was not between him and the food. That lost him the goodie of course, but I quit offering it like that. He never would step up on my finger when it was between him and millet.

After a bit, he'd eat the millet even if it was barely sticking out from my fingers (he didn't get it any other time; he had to take some while I was holding it, then I'd put the rest down for him to chow down).

Then a bit when it was laying on my flattened fingertips.

Last week was the big breakthrough. I'd been away all day. When I came home, I sat in a different chair than usual, right near his birdie tree - and he started heading toward me. Inspiration struck, and I grabbed the container of millet. Weirdly, the movement did NOT cause him to bolt.

I put a bit on my palm, and held it by one of the flat bits on the tree - and he bent down and started eating from my hand. A minute or two later, I felt a faint prickle on my hand - and he had put one foot on my hand. A minute or two after that, BOTH feet were on my hand.

I was actually able to move my hand slowly to rest on the arm of my chair, and he didn't bolt. He didn't even bolt when I used my other hand to put a bit more birdie crack into the cup of the hand he was standing on.

Since then, he's become very consistent about coming over to me when I sit there with food. Not all the time, mind you - he has to be hungry (most reliable time is when I've just opened up his cage in the morning). He's even becoming less hesitant to step on my hand to get to the goodies.

He won't wander further though. This morning was the first time I persuaded him to step onto my leg (I bring my hand over to my leg while he's noshing). I have not tried moving around with him on my hand - I suppose in a week or two I'll give that a go; it would be nice to persuade him to go to me on the couch. Nor have I tried getting him to go onto my shoulder - that might take a bit of work, since it's hard to balance millet there! But after the leap last week, I have hopes!

A photo of him on my wrist. . He wasn't terribly pleased with the shutter sound the phone made when I snapped the pix but he got used to it and went back to eating.
  #113  
Old 09-18-2019, 10:56 AM
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Hooray for success! They sure can take a long time to figure out we're not actually trying to kill them. My Fat Uncle Blue has never been interested in sitting on my finger. He'll occasionally go on my arm if I'm wearing a specific long-sleeved pajama top. The babies got over there terror of me and are back to crawling all over me.

But I did recently get a new housecoat which obviously means I'm trying to kill them if I wear it near them. Good thing they're cute!
  #114  
Old 09-18-2019, 11:20 AM
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Thank you for the update! I love Morty stories. I'm glad things are improving.
  #115  
Old 09-18-2019, 11:51 AM
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Yeah, that cere looks female. Having said that, I'll admit we were fooled by a 'keet whose cere changed colors dramatically several times before she laid a single egg and settled the matter once and for all.

Just spending time with Morty will help. I once got a very skittish cockatiel to accept head scratches from my hand after spending most of a long July 4th weekend hanging out with him.
  #116  
Old 09-18-2019, 02:46 PM
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What a cute little 'keet! I like that pale yellow. Glad you got him/her over the skittishness.
  #117  
Old 09-18-2019, 10:18 PM
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The reason I think Morty *might* be male is that the cleaning lady felt his pelvic area and said it was more closed than a female's would be. Though I dunno if that's as accurate as the cere color - and of course with two "ino" parents the cere is less reliable anyway.

Cute story from later today. I occasionally will put a parakeet video on the TV so he can hear other budgies. He's never tried to approach the TV to see where the other birds are (though he does respond to birdsong outdoors).

Today, I brought up a video on my phone and held the phone up right next to his bird tree. He was very puzzled about those other birds - and actually ran up to the phone twice to try to figure things out. He pecked at the phone once then immediately ran away.
  #118  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:35 PM
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I'm afraid the news is bad


I had to go in to the city for work today.

As usual, I uncovered and opened Morty's cage before I left.

I got home at 5:45 and he was not there. Housemate had seen him just an hour before.

We've been looking for him for nearly 5 hours and not a sound or sighting.

She opened the door to outside once but he didn't sneak past her. When I came home from work, I parked in the garage, closed the garage door, then went into the house. I didn't see him bolt either.

So my working theory is that he got out of his cage, flew around, and banged into something - stunning and possibly killing himself, and is behind a piece of furniture or something - though we looked behind and under everything.

We checked all the toilets. No bird. Ditto the sink and the oven.

FUCK!!!!!

Last edited by Mama Zappa; 09-19-2019 at 09:35 PM.
  #119  
Old 09-19-2019, 09:39 PM
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I'm very sorry to hear that {{Mama Zappa}}. And he was making such good progress, too.
  #120  
Old 09-20-2019, 11:44 AM
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Well.

Happier ending than I had expected.

We spent much of the evening looking pretty much everywhere. No bird, live or dead. I was beginning to wonder if he'd managed to get out the door the two times it was open, without our noticing. I was trying to figure out how to break the news to our cleaning lady next week that we'd lost the parakeet she entrusted to us.

I finally went upstairs to go to bed about 3 AM. And just before I turned out the light, I heard a faint noise.

Morty was on top of the valence on one of my bedroom windows.

Bear in mind, he has never gone further than the dining room (his cage is at the far eastern wall of the house, the dining room is on the western wall, in a straight line). He has never turned toward the front of the house. But this time he evidently made that left turn either in the kitchen (middle of house) or dining room (end), and made the turn, and made it up the stairs.

I spent a while trying to persuade him to come to me for some millet. He was clearly interested, but would not come down. I brought a chair into the room to stand on, but the minute my hand (containing millet) got within a foot of him, he bolted. This led to about an hour of alternately cajoling (with millet), and trying to chase / trap him. At one point I played a budgie video on my phone, hoping he'd be interested; he was, as in he chirped back at it, but he would not approach.

At 4:30, he had gotten behind my night stand. I had to give up for the night. So I made sure all the other upstairs doors were closed, left the hall light on, put a budgie video on the TV, and went to sleep.

When I got up barely 3 hours later, he had emerged to the point of perching on a wire running up from the floor to my nightstand. I grabbed the container of millet, put some on my hand, and held it close. He gobbled. So I moved it such that he had to reach into my palm, and ultimately he actually stepped onto my hand. Fortunately he did not bolt when I moved my hand (see, last week's practice helped a little). I brought my hand right next to the millet container, tilted that a bit, and tilted my hand a bit, and he finally stepped into the bowl of millet.

I very, very, very carefully walked out into the hall with this, then down the stairs, certain he was going to panic and escape at any moment - but figured that at least if I got him downstairs he'd be more likely to find his way back. Luckily, he didn't fly away until I was right next to his cage. Then of course he refused to go *in* the cage, but at least he was on it. He did later go in.... and now he's closed up in there for the day.

I must say, at 4 AM, I was seriously rethinking the "no wing clipping" position....

So - obviously he got venturesome and went into the hallway, got upstairs, got freaked out and too scared to explore any further. I don't know if he'd have ever gotten the courage to try to fly back out of the bedroom - might he have simply stayed in there and starved???
  #121  
Old 09-20-2019, 12:59 PM
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He wouldn't have starved. He'd have chirped and made some noise, as he eventually did. In fact, that's how we tamed our birds. We'd let them fly to the top of the curtains, under our supervision, then we'd "rescue" them. We'd coax them to hop onto our finger, then walk to the cage with them on our hand. After they see a human as their savior, they gradually lose their fear of you.

I'm glad Morty was OK, and that your fear for him was temporary.

Last edited by cochrane; 09-20-2019 at 01:01 PM.
  #122  
Old 09-20-2019, 01:16 PM
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Oh man, dramatic turn of events! Glad Morty's fine. Good work with the stepping up.

Our bird room had to be made bird-safe through a progression of incidents, each of which taught us our previous assumptions had been wrong.

Let me further recommend "no birds on the floor" ever. Too dangerous.
  #123  
Old 09-20-2019, 02:15 PM
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So scary! But what a wonderful happy ending. I'm sure you must be so relieved.

With your timid little guy, it would probably be very traumatic for him to clip his wings. I can't remember your set-up, maybe limit his space a bit?

I miss having birds. My very first was a sweet cockatiel whose wing feathers I kept slightly clipped. When I got him, they were completely clipped and he fell like a stone when he tried to fly, poor guy. That certainly wasn't acceptable! I let them grow, but we had big, picture windows that we couldn't cover, and the other choice was keeping him cooped up in one bedroom. I did a modified clip where I only did a couple of wing feathers. He could fly about twenty feet while slowly gliding to the floor. He ended up riding everywhere on my shoulder, and he was happy enough with this compromise.
  #124  
Old 09-20-2019, 04:19 PM
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Yay!

I subscribed to thread hoping for a happy outcome!

No more Bye Bye Birdie!
  #125  
Old 09-20-2019, 07:27 PM
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I'm glad he's ok. Silly little bird.
  #126  
Old 09-20-2019, 09:48 PM
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I'm so glad he's okay!

StG
  #127  
Old 09-20-2019, 10:21 PM
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We're thinking off renaming him Onan.
I can't believe no one else has remarked on this.

I'm pleased that God has not yet smited Morty for spilling his seed.
  #128  
Old 09-21-2019, 01:54 PM
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Glad to hear he's okay! I hope you told him off for scaring you like that! LOL
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